Sadr meets with Iraqi militias in Qom, Iran

The leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, held a meeting in Qom, Iran, with the leaders of some armed Shia factions, including Akram al-Kaabi of the al-Najaba militia, Abu Alaa al-Walai of the Master of the Martyrs, and leaders of other factions.

A photo has circulated on social media showing the officials allegedly discussing the coordination of joint efforts between the factions after the US raid that assassinated Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and the deputy chief of the Popular Mobilization Forces ( PMF) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad, Iraq.

Sources also said they discussed other important issues related to the US occupation presence in Iraq.

The Sadrist movement did not issue a statement on the meeting and its nature, a source close to the movement told Asharq Al-Awsat that it could have responded to Sadr’s call to form an international resistance.

However, the source ruled out Sadr’s involvement at this stage in an armed resistance movement against the US presence in the country, confirming that Sadr and a few faction leaders have been in Qom since attending the funerals of Soleimani and Muhandis.

Meanwhile, multiple sources close to leaders of Iraqi armed factions loyal to Iran told Asharq Al-Awsat that they were going through conditions of unprecedented extreme caution, fearing they would suffer the same fate as Soleimani and Muhandis.

The sources also confirmed that the leaders took several precautionary measures such as using regular cars rather than convoys. They also refrain from using their cell phones and only inform a few trusted officials of their location.

Sources have suggested that after the assassination of the two commanders, the disputes between the faction leaders have worsened, given the intense competition that exists mainly between these factions.

They often compete for closeness to decision-makers in Tehran and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as well as their disagreements over projects, investments, ministries and government positions in Iraq.

Incumbent Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said in a speech to parliament that Muhandis had played a positive role many times in controlling some of the armed factions to ensure they did not break the law.

Reports indicated an agreement that the head of the al-Badr organization, Hadi al-Amiri, was chosen to succeed Muhandis as deputy head of the PMF. However, sources ruled out that Amiri could control the armed factions, given his “lack of charisma enjoyed by Muhandis”.

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